Matt Ferner


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Research Director, SF Bay NERR and Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology
Marine Benthic Ecology
(415) 338-3724


Research Interests

I am broadly interested in how physical and chemical aspects of the environment influence biological communities. I currently use a combination of laboratory and field approaches to test hypotheses about how water motion affects marine invertebrates and their habitats. Topics of investigation include: 1) causes of temporal and spatial variation in benthic habitats and environmental stressors; 2) mechanisms and consequences of organism exposure to environmental stressors; 3) sensory interactions among marine invertebrates. One goal of my research is to understand how abiotic factors exert selective pressure on organisms and ultimately help to drive ecological and evolutionary patterns. I also serve as Research Director for the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, where I strive to help connect applied science to the management of tidal wetlands and other coastal ecosystems.

Selected Papers

Hodin J, Ferner MC, Heyland A, Gaylord B (in press). I feel that! Fluid dynamics and sensory aspects of larval settlement across scales. In Ecology and Evolution of Marine Invertebrate Larvae. Eds. Carrier, Reitzel, Heyland. Oxford University Press.

Bible J, Cheng B, Chang A, Ferner MC, Wasson K, Zabin C, Latta M, Sanford E, Deck A, Grosholz E (2017) Timing of stressors alters interactive effects on a coastal foundation species. Ecology 98: 2468–2478.

Cheng BS, Chang A, Deck A, Ferner MC (2016) Atmospheric rivers and the mass mortality of wild oysters: insight into an extreme future? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283: 20161462.

Raposa KB, Wasson K, Smith E, Crooks JA, Delgado P, Fernald SH, Ferner MC, Helms A, Hice LA, Mora JW, Puckett B, Sanger D, Shull S, Spurrier L, Stevens R, Lerberg S (2016) Assessing tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise at broad geographic scales with multi-metric indices. Biological Conservation 204: 263–275.

Chang AL, Deck AK, Sullivan LJ, Morgan SG, Ferner MC (2016) Upstream – downstream shifts in a recruitment hotspot of the native Olympia oyster in San Francisco Bay during wet and dry years. Estuaries and Coasts. doi: 10.1007/s12237-016-0182-1.

Wasson K, Hughes BB, Berriman JS, Chang AL, Deck AK, Dinnel PA, Endris C, Espinoza M, Dudas S, Ferner MC, Grosholz ED, Kimbro D, Ruesink JL, Trimble AC, Vander Schaaf D, Zabin CJ, Zacherl DC (2016) Coast-wide recruitment dynamics of Olympia oysters reveal limited synchrony and multiple predictors of failure. Ecology 97: 3503–3516.

Byrd KB, Windham-Myers L, Leeuw T, Downing B, Morris JT, Ferner MC (2016) Forecasting tidal marsh elevation and habitat change through fusion of Earth observations and a process model. Ecosphere 7: e01582.doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1582.

Hodin J, Ferner MC, Ng G, Lowe CJ, Gaylord B (2015) Rethinking competence in marine life cycles: ontogenetic changes in the settlement response of sand dollar larvae exposed to turbulence. Royal Society Open Science 2: 150114. doi: 10.1098/rsos.150114

Cheng BS, Bible JM, Chang AL, Ferner MC, Wasson K, Zabin CJ, Latta M, Deck AK, Todgham A, Grosholz ED (2015) Testing local and global stressor impacts on a coastal foundation species using an ecologically realistic framework. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12895

Lacy JR, Schile LM, Callaway JC, Ferner MC (2015) Mechanisms of sediment flux between shallows and marshes. In Coastal Sediments 2015: The Proceedings of the Coastal Sediments 2015. Eds. Wang, Rosati, Cheng. World Scientific.

Buskey EJ, Bundy M, Ferner MC, Porter DE, Reay WG, Smith E, Trueblood D (2015) System-Wide Monitoring Program of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System: Research and Monitoring to Address Coastal Management Issues In Coastal ocean observing systems. Eds. Liu, Kerkering, Weisberg. Elsevier Inc.

Weissburg MJ, Smee DL, Ferner MC (2014) The sensory ecology of non-consumptive predator effects. American Naturalist 184: 141-157.

McClure A, Liu X, Hines E, Ferner MC (2016) Evaluation of Error Reduction Techniques on a LIDAR-Derived Salt Marsh Digital Elevation Model. Journal of Coastal Research 32: 424-433.

†Gaylord B, †Hodin J, †Ferner MC (2013) Turbulent shear spurs settlement in larval sea urchins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 6901-6906. (†Coequal contributors)
Ferner MC (2012) Research reserves as a model for conservation science and management of tidal marshes. In Ecology, conservation and restoration of tidal marshes: the San Francisco Estuary. Ed. Palaima. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
Ferner MC (2012) Conclusion to the Special Issue: Ecology and regional context of tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 10(2).
Ferner MC (2011) Introduction to Part 1 of the Special Issue: Ecology and regional context of tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 9(3).

Smee DL, Ferner MC, Weissburg MJ (2010) Hydrodynamic sensory stressors produce nonlinear predation patterns. Ecology 91: 1391-1400.
Ferner MC, Smee DL, Weissburg MJ (2009) Habitat complexity alters lethal and nonlethal olfactory interactions between predators and prey. Marine Ecology Progress Series 374: 13-22.
Ferner MC, Gaylord B (2008) Flexibility foils filter function: structural constraints on benthic suspension feeding. Journal of Experimental Biology 211: 3563-3572.
Smee DL, Ferner MC, Weissburg MJ (2008) Alteration of sensory abilities regulates the spatial scale of nonlethal predator effects. Oecologia 156: 399-409.
Ferner MC, Smee DL, Chang YP (2005) Cannibalistic crabs respond to the scent of injured conspecifics: danger or dinner? Marine Ecology Progress Series 300: 193-200.
Ferner MC, Weissburg MJ (2005) Slow-moving predatory gastropods track prey odors in fast and turbulent flow. Journal of Experimental Biology 208: 809-819.
Weissburg MJ, Ferner MC, Pisut DP, Smee DL (2002) Ecological consequences of chemically mediated prey perception. Journal of Chemical Ecology 28: 1933-1970.
Ferner MC, Jumars PA (1999) Responses of spionid polychaetes to dissolved chemical cues. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 236: 89-106.